The “Arab Spring” at One Year

From Egypt and Bahrain to Occupy Oakland, popular movements remain committed to the waves of protest and demands for political freedom, economic justice and social systems in which people’s needs aregiven precedence over the greed of corporations and the ruling elite.
 
Repressive regimes are using police and military violence, mass arrests and incarceration of political activists to try to stop thegrowing calls for human rights, democracy and an end to US imperialism and Zionism. Meanwhile, the US provides economic and political support for the repression of popular movements in Bahrain and Egypt as it does in so many places throughout the world.   
 
In Bahrain, tens of thousands of protesters are now marking the one-year anniversary of their uprising.  In response to the call of Bahraini human rights activists to witness their revolution, “Witness Bahrain”has sent international observers, two of whom have been arrested and deported.  One of the remaining delegates is a member of IJAN. 
 
Below are both press releases that have been issued so far, including information about the “Witness Bahrain” initiative and the arrests.
 
To take action against US funding of Bahrain oppression, sign and circulate this petition: https://www.change.org/petitions/the-president-of-the-united-states-stop-any-new-arms-deals-with-bahrain .
 
Keep an eye out for a call to action in the next week in solidarity with the Bahraini popular struggle and against the deportation of international observers.
 


“Witness Bahrain” Launched as Ongoing Revolution Marks First Year:
International Observers Arrive in Bahrain
For Immediate Release
February 10. 2012
 
[Manama] Today, human rights defenders launched the “Witness Bahrain” initiative to monitor and report on the repression of Arab Spring democracy activists in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

“Witness Bahrain” is a group of international observers, primarily from the United States, who have responded to the call of Bahraini human rights activists to witness their revolution, stand with them at protests, in hospitals and in villages, and to tell the world what they see.  The government of Bahrain has denied entryto a number of prominent journalists and human rights workers in the lead-up to the one-year anniversary of the massive and ongoing pro-democracy movement.

“People here fear that the government of Bahrain’s attempt tokeep out foreign observers signals an impending escalation of violence,” said Radhika Sainath, a civil rights attorney from New York.  “As such, our presence here is all the more crucial.”

In the coming days and weeks, Witness Bahrain will stand withpeople taking to the streets to demand democracy, equality and respect for human rights. Witness Bahrain will also maintain a presence in villages active in pro-democracy protests which are being subjected to night raids, tear-gassing and other attacks by the police.

“We call on the Bahraini government to refrain from attackingpeaceful protesters; however, should the government choose to continue using violence, we will be present to witness,” the group said.

Follow Witness Bahrain:

Website: http://www.WitnessBahrain.org
Twitter: @WitnessBahrain
Email: info@WitnessBahrain.org

 
 


US Citizens Arrested in Bahrain for Human Rights Monitoring 

For immediate release
Febraury 11, 2011
 
(Manama) – US Citizens Huwaida Arraf and Radhika Sainath werearrested by Bahraini security forces in Manama on Saturday during a peaceful protest near the Standard Chartered Bank downtown. Protesters had marched into the city center to reestablish a presence of nonviolent, peaceful protest leading up to the 1-year anniversary of theArab Spring uprising in Bahrain.
 
Huwaida and Radhika were in Bahrain as part of an international solidarity effort aimed at providing an international civilian presence to report and monitor the situation on the ground.

Leading up to February 14, Bahraini authorities had preventedjournalists, human rights observers and other internationals from entering the country, leading many to fear a brutal crackdown.  The two women are part of the Witness Bahrain initiative (www.witnessbahrain.org), which arrived in Bahrain in response to a call by Bahraini democracy activists for international observers.
 
Just yesterday, top US human rights envoy, Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, called on the Bahraini authorities torespect the rights of Bahrainis to peaceful protest and to refrain fromusing excessive force.  Huwaida was dragged away by numerous security forces after sitting on the ground, and it is widely reported that detainees have suffered physical abuse while on the way to and at policestations.
 
Both women were part of a peaceful protest marching near the Pearl Roundabout – site of last year’s peaceful round-the-clock protest in Bahrain, modeled after Egypt’s Tahrir Square – when they were attacked.  Both are human rights lawyers, and both have experience as human rights activists in Palestine.  Additionally, both were part of the National Lawyer’s Guild delegation to Gaza following Operation Cast Lead to investigate possible war crimes and illegal use of American weaponry on a civilian population.

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